Saturday, February 1, 2014

General Guide on Banana Cultivation (Part 3)

Growing banana (Musa spp) are one of the most popular tropical fruits in South East Asia region include Malaysia. There are about 29,800 hectare of banana planted in 2012 in Malaysia producing about 296,900 metric tonne of fresh banana. Most local banana are for domestic market and the rest are for export especially to Singapore, Hong Kong and West Asia. The good agriculture practice (GAP) in banana plantation include all general guide on banana cultivation from land preparation and harvesting and post harvest handling to ensure good quality banana and safe for consumption.

6. Intercrop Intercrop
Intercropping can be profitable. Short durational crops (45-60 days) can be planted between rows of plants. However, intercropping is only possible during early stage of the plantation.

7. Special Operations Special Operations
The following practices would directly affect the productivity and quality of the Banana plants.

i) Desuckering / Pruning

One mother plant and two followers. Keeping too many sucking plants will reduce yields. It is advisable to remove all suckers once the desired followers have been selected. An age interval of 2 months between the mother plant and subsequently each of the followers is most desirable as these followers will become your main stem after the mother plant fruits. The most effective method to permanently remove unwanted suckers is to cut the stem off the ground and then cut into the centre of the plant. This should kill the sucker.

ii) Propagation

The alternative of pruning is propagation of bananas. Instead of destroying the suckers, suckers can be removed from the clump and replanting it in a newly cultivated land. Large suckers called the “sword sucker” are the preferred planting material. When removing the suckers, it must be cut into the mother plant enough to unearth some roots. Leaves are often removed in the process for easy transportation and re-planting. These suckers must be re-planted within a day or two and should not be exposed to the sun. Otherwise the roots may dry up.

iii) Deflowering

Remove the “Bell” (the purple flower petals at the end of the bunch – also known as “banana blossom” or “banana heart“). This is generally practiced because this way, Banana plant will conserve its energy into growing bigger bunch and not longer stalk.

iv) Pruning of leaves

Old leaves and infected leaves should be pruned regularly. This will reduce the likelihood of leaf diseases and keeps the plantation tidy. Furthermore, it provides natural mulch to the Banana plants.

v) Earthing up

Soil level should be raised after 3 months of planting to keep soil loose. This will also help prevent Banana plants from falling due to severe wind.

vi) Removal of female hands

Remove the last one (1) to two (2) hands of the bunch. Banana growers often remove the bottom female hands so that the remaining hands grow bigger as it facilitates fruit development and increases bunch weigh.

vii) Bunch Covering

Bunch covering increases the weigh and enhances quality of fruit. Traditionally, Banana growers protect the bunch from sunburn by placing dry leaves on the top hand of the bunch but this is not practical during rainy season and can be time consuming. Commercial growers however, use blue plastic sleeves. This practice is to protect Banans from insects, sunburn, diseases, spray residue, dust and birds. Covering the Banana bunch increases the temperature within which helps in early maturity.

viii) Propping

Support Banana plants with bamboos. Banana plants often go off balance due to the heavy weight of the bunch. Therefore, two (2) bamboos should be propped by placing one (1) against the top of the bunch and the other against the stem on the leaning side. Propping using only one (1) bamboo is not advisable as the Banana plant may plunge to the other direction during strong wind.

8. Pest and Disease Management Pest and disease management
Bananas are prompt to viral diseases, fungal diseases and pest thereby reduces production, quality and yield. The following table shows the major pest and diseases that Banana growers should be wary of.

PestViral DiseasesFungal Diseases
Aphids (Pentalonia nigronervosa)Banana Bunchy Top VirusHead rot (Erwinia carotovora)
Fruit scarring battle (Besilepta subcostatum)Banana Bract Mosaic VirusPanama wilt (Furarium oxysporium)
NematodesBanana Mosaic VirusSigatoka leaf spot (Mycospharella spp)
Pseudostem weevil (Odaiporous longicolis)Banana Streak Virus-
Rhizome weevil (Cosmopolites Sordidus--
Thrips (Chaetanaphotrips & signipennis & Heliaothrips kodaliphilus)--
M Anem
Senior Agronomist
Kampong Parit Raja,
Batu Pahat,
Johor, Malaysia.
(22 Muharam 1435H)

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